Charcoal Grill Maintenance Tips
There’s no escaping it. Whether it’s the grill in your backyard or the one that’s set up for shared use in the local park, charcoal grills require some form of maintenance to keep them in great working condition.
This involves learning how to clean a charcoal grill and when you need to do it. Without further ado, here are some charcoal grill maintenance tips every avid griller needs to know.
How to Clean a Charcoal Grill 101: Timing Is Everything
Now that winter is drawing to a close and spring is right around the corner, it is entirely likely that your charcoal grill has been tucked away for the past couple of months.
It is also very likely that you put it away dirty after you last grilled. No? Well, maybe just everyone else then. If you did, don’t worry, you’re in (not so) good company! Knowing how to clean a charcoal grill goes hand-in-hand with knowing when to clean it.
Kick-Start the Grilling Season on a Clean Slate
If you haven’t used your grill in a couple of months, here’s what you need to do:
- Fire up the grill to melt away any gunk that’s on there. There’s also a good chance that spiders, ants, and other insects decided to take up residence there during the period it was dormant. A roaring fire is the best way to evict them. No prior notice required!
- Once you’ve had the fire going for about 30 minutes, use a scraper to loosen and remove any huge debris before using a grill brush with wire bristles to clean in between the grates.
- If you don’t have a grill brush (although it’s probably a good idea to get one), you can improvise with a small ball-shaped piece of aluminum foil held in place with a pair of grill tongs to scrub the grates.
- Once you’ve managed to get all the debris and stubborn gunk out, let it cool off before you empty the charcoal grate and brush off all the ash and debris that may be lodged there.
After the Grill Cools Off
If your grill wasn’t in bad shape at the beginning of the season, you probably already scraped off the gunk and debris after the last time you used it. If that’s the case, then you can skip that part and jump here.
- Soak both the cooking and charcoal grates in warm soapy water and leave them there for a few hours. Regular dish soap will suffice.
- While they’re soaking, wash the inside and outside of the grill with warm soapy water and a steel wool scrubber or brush. Ensure that you rinse it off thoroughly to remove any traces of soap residue.
- Next, scrub the cooking and charcoal grates with a scraper first, before using a grill brush or crumpled up aluminum foil. Rinse them thoroughly once they’re clean and dry them off with a rag.
- Apply olive oil or any regular vegetable oil to the cooking grate to prevent food from sticking on it. It also keeps rust at bay.
Cleaning the Grill During the Season
This is the best way to keep your grill in tip-top shape. It’s easier to get the grease out while it’s still warm since it won’t have the chance to harden and turn into gunk.
- Dump out the ash and charcoal chunks from the ash receptacle and charcoal grate, respectively, and use a scraper to remove any lingering debris.
- Soak the grill grates in warm soapy water for a few minutes and then use a grill brush to clean them.
- Leave them to dry before re-oiling the cooking grates to prevent them from rusting.
- Also, wipe down the inside part of the lid using a paper towel while it’s still warm to remove all grease sputter and soot that builds up inside the lid and cooking cavity with each grilling session.
- After every couple of weeks, it’s a good idea to clean the grill thoroughly both inside and out using warm soapy water.
Cleaning the Grill at the End of the Season
Cleaning a dirty grill that’s been like that for months can be daunting. The mere prospect of having to remove built-up gunk that’s been sitting there for a while is a complete grilling turn-off. To make things easy:
- Dump out the ash receptacle and charcoal grates.
- Thoroughly clean the grill inside and out.
- Wash the cooking grates and brush them with oil to protect them from rust.
- Use a weatherproof cover to cover the grill to keep it spick and span until the next time you use it.
Treat Your Grill With Love and It Will Reciprocate
Cleaning your grill after each use goes a long way in keeping it at its best. Don’t put off what can get done now. Now that you know how to clean a charcoal grill properly, you can be certain that each grilling experience will feel like it’s brand new.
Did you know that the type of charcoal you use in your smoker matters? Check out our blog for the ultimate guide on choosing the best charcoal to use in your smoker.